Sears Chief Warns of Store Closings without Pension Relief

May 5, 2010 ( – Without a bill extending deadlines for funding corporate pensions becoming law, the parent company of Sears and Kmart could be forced to shutter “a significant amount” of unprofitable stores, the company’s chairman has warned.

A Chicago Sun-Times news story said Chairman Edward S. Lampert made the statement at a shareholders meeting of Sears Holdings Corp.

Despite investing $1.2 billion in its pension plan over the past five years, Lampert said, Sears Holdings would be under increased pressure to weed out store locations not making their profit targets without more time to make up market losses to the pension plan suffered during the market  downturn.

The Senate passed the funding relief provision in a bill that extends COBRA and provides other relief to workers. The measure is before the House.

“(Pension relief) would give us a lot more flexibility to keep unprofitable stores open,” Lampert said, according to the Sun-Times report.